Issue date: 
Thursday, 20 April 2023

Production is set to commence in Aotearoa New Zealand on  family adventure comedy Bookworm, written by Toby Harvard (Come to Daddy, The Greasy Strangler) and directed by Ant Timpson (Come to Daddy). The film stars Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Come to Daddy, Yellowjackets), Michael Smiley (Kill List, Bad Sisters, The Lobster), and Nell Fisher (Evil Dead Rise, Northspur, Choose Love).

Bookworm tells the story of 12-year-old Mildred (Fisher) whose life is turned upside down when her estranged, washed-up American magician father, Strawn Wise (Wood), comes to look after her. Hoping to entertain the bookish tween, Strawn takes Mildred camping in the notoriously rugged New Zealand wilderness, and the pair embark on the ultimate test of family bonding – a quest to find the mythological beast known as the Canterbury Panther.

No stranger to creating films in Aotearoa, Wood is looking forward to returning to the country and rekindling his creative partnership with Timpson. Wood says: “I couldn’t be more excited to return to New Zealand, both to get the creative band back together with Ant Timpson, but also to reconnect with the country I’ve missed so much.”

Bookworm will be the second collaboration between Wood and Timpson, with the pair working together on Come to Daddy in 2018.

"The sheer joy I had working with my friend Elijah on Come to Daddy was so delicious, there was no way I wasn’t coming back for seconds,” says Timpson. “In Bookworm we’re going to put him through the ringer again, except this time he’s at the mercy of a precocious 12-year-old and the rugged landscape of the Canterbury region.”

Bookworm is produced by Emma Slade, Roxi Bull and Victoria Dabbs of Firefly Films and Mette-Marie Kongsved and Laura Tunstall of Nowhere. Executive Producers are Steven Demmler of Talon Entertainment Finance, Blair Ward and Anders Erdén of Orogen Entertainment, and Kelly Rogers and Kevin Gordon of Rialto Distribution.

Award-winning Irish actor and comedian, Michael Smiley, most recently had a starring role in the internationally acclaimed Apple+ TV dark comedy series Bad Sisters. He received a BIFA award for Best Supporting Actor for Kill List. He also headlined the period crime series Dead Still which was nominated for 7 IFTAs at the 17th Irish Film & Television including Best Drama and Best Director. His recent feature films include Gunpowder Milkshake and The Silent Twins.

British/New Zealander Nell Fisher stars in upcoming feature Evil Dead Rise, the fifth instalment of the cult horror classic directed by Lee Cronin, to be released later this month by Warner Bros. Screen highlights include the post-apocalyptic action feature film Northspur, where she played the role of Tia; Netflix’s first interactive rom-com, Choose Love, and Season 3 of New Zealand series My Life is Murder.

Bookworm is made with investment from the New Zealand Film Commission, the New Zealand Screen Production Grant, Talon Entertainment Finance Inc, Orogen Entertainment and financed in association with Kiwibank Limited, Screen CanterburyNZ and Images & Sound. Mister Smith Entertainment is handling international sales. CAA Media Finance represents US rights. Rialto will distribute the film in New Zealand and Australia.

Michael Smiley is represented by B-Side Management in the UK. Nell Fisher is represented by Gail Cowan Management (NZ), Untitled Entertainment (US) and United Agents (UK). Elijah Wood is represented by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Meyer & Downs, and Narrative.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 20 April 2023